Frontier Medicine
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Frontier Medicine

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  53 ratings  ·  18 reviews
In this intriguing narrative, David Dary charts how American medicine has evolved since 1492, when New World settlers first began combining European remedies with the traditional practices of the native populations. It’s a story filled with colorful characters, from quacks and con artists to heroic healers and ingenious medicine men, and Dary tells it with an engaging styl...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2008)
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Interesting topic but poor execution, I could not get through this author's wandering and redundant writing style. Plus, I wanted to hear more about nurses!
Medical history has become over the past twenty years one of the most interesting sub-fields of American and world history as it shows, at its best, the plight of suffering of people in combat against pathogens and trauma and the efforts of physicians, nurses, and others to better the world one life at a time. In doing so, the history of medicine also becomes the history of towns, cities, states, nations, and cultures. It displays the trajectory of human evolution forward, away from superstition...more
I did enjoy this book, although I have to say it was less through the skill of the author and more a result of the sheer interestingness of the topic. A history of medicine on the American frontier would, one would expect, be filled with gunshots and explosions, gruesome amputations and wild and wacky remedies, replete with many moments of 'ewww, they didn't!' And this was, don't get me wrong. It covers Native American traditions, Chinese medicine, midwives and women doctors, mountain men and mo...more
Melissa Perkins
Informative and interesting but rather dry with far too much excess information (such as where a medical pioneer grew up when that didn't influence his techniques). The book could honestly have been half as long if all of the "fluff" was removed.
The interesting bits were REALLY interesting, but the boring bits were REALLY boring. Some sections seemed to wander all over and back forth and have no direction. Decent, but could have been better. One can only read so many stats and numbers. Bonus points for the descriptions of the no anesthesia ovary-ectomy. Totally cool!
I am enjoying this read immensely. However, as much fun as it is for me to read wacky medical accounts that are listed with very little in the way of transitions, Dary would have done better for himself had he created a story chronologically, instead of topically, with so many different subdivisions. I ma enjoying myself, but it isn't a smooth ride with any kind of discernable arc.

Earlier: I can't WAIT to find time to read this one. Don't worry, I will tell you ALL about primitive surgery and ho...more
Eric Mccutcheon
I did not care for this book. While the subject matter would seemingly be full of promise, the execution was poor. My biggest complaint is the lack of organization and the need to list every doctor he could find information about. Instead of concentrating on one or two doctors for the subjects he found interesting, and then using those doctors' stories as the framework for a discussion on those subjects, the author proved his point by repeating the same idea over and over again. Very dry and dis...more
This books spans American medicine from before the nation existed (Natives, trappers, colonists) through the end of the snake oil period of the 1930s. The bit about the Lewis and Clark exhibition was particularly interesting. They took serious pains to be medically prepared, and it paid off when they only lost one man (who likely died of a bust appendix, which they wouldn't have been able to treat anyway).
Anne Sanow
Aug 26, 2009 Anne Sanow marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading
Will pick this up again--right now it's languishing in a pile because I'm reading fiction instead.


Most recent fact learned: Meriwether Lewis died of syphilis! Or, more precisely, a self-inflicted gunshot wound due to madness/depression following from same.
page 139. Have to stop here as it needs to go back to the library and I can't renew it. It's pretty good so far, but I am a little annoyed by the redundant writing style this author seems to have.

Entertaining and interesting read on the evolution of modern medicine. An occasional detour into arcane recounts and Kansas folklore but otherwise enjoyable.
Some good observations of medicine past and present and oogie descriptions of medical practices, but read too often like an outline.
Interesting topic, however, it didn't always flow well from one subject to the next and some of the chapters were not knit well together.
This book was very interesting. I'm glad that we live in the times of medicine that we do now.
What I learned from this book? Never travel without laudanum and powdered whiteroot.
ok. some interesting facts, but writing style is rather boring.
John Acy Reinhart
Should finish this one in a couple of days.
Feb 05, 2009 Tom marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A birthday gift from Kate
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